How to manage hay fever
While there is no cure for hay fever, it can be managed with medications that reduce or relieve symptoms. Common treatments for hay fever include antihistamines and nasal sprays.
Antihistamines work by blocking the actions of histamine, the chemical produced by the body in response to a perceived threat. Some antihistamines can cause drowsiness, and though there are non-drowsy antihistamines available, it’s important to make sure you are not affected before driving or operating machinery. If you experience serious side effects from taking any medication, seek medical attention immediately.
Telfast (fexofenadine hydrochloride) is a prescription-only oral antihistamine. One tablet should be swallowed whole with water once a day before food. Telfast normally starts working in around 1-3 hours. Common side effects include drowsiness, headache, nausea, and dizziness. Other brands of fexofenadine can also be bought over the counter.
Neoclarityn (desloratadine) is a prescription-only antihistamine available from Superdrug Online Doctor. It is taken as a tablet once a day with water and can be taken with or without food. Common side effects of neoclarityn include fatigue, dry mouth, and headaches.
Nasonex is a prescription-only nasal spray that is used to relieve symptoms of hay fever such as nasal congestion, itching, and runny nose. Nasonex contains a type of corticosteroid medication and works by reducing inflammation and swelling in the nose. It comes in a pump that is sprayed into each nostril and is normally started with two sprays into each nostril once a day. This can be reduced to one spray as symptoms improve. Other steroid nasal sprays are available over the counter.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, suffer from any health problems or take any other medications it’s always best to chat to the pharmacist or doctor before taking medication for hay fever.
Other treatments and precautions
In addition to taking medication, there are a few things you can do to minimise the effects of hay fever.
- Stay inside when the pollen count is high (over 50 grains per cubic feet of air).
- If you do go outside, wear wraparound sunglasses to reduce the amount of pollen coming into contact with your eyes.
- Apply a small amount of Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen spores.
- Change your clothes and take a shower when you get back indoors to remove any pollen on your clothes or body.
- Keep doors and windows shut.
- Dust and vacuum regularly.
- Use a pollen filter in your car and vacuum cleaner.
- Avoid cutting the grass or walking on the grass.
- Don’t hang clothes outside to dry.
- Don’t keep fresh flowers in the house.
If your hay fever is severe or isn’t responding to standard treatments, immunotherapy, otherwise known as hypersensitisation or desensitisation therapy may help. This is a treatment aimed at “teaching” your immune system to react less severely to allergens and works by gradually exposing your body to the allergen over time. Gradually increasing amounts of the allergen are injected into the skin of your upper arm or given orally, normally over a period of three to five years.